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Commissioners reject Les Bois Park lease proposals

April 21, 2009     E-mail this page to a friend!

This morning, the Board of Ada County Commissioners voted unanimously to reject the two Les Bois Park lease proposals submitted as part of the county’s Request for Proposal process which ended on April 6, 2009. In March and April, Ada County conducted a national search to find a tenant for Les Bois Park and only two proposals were submitted. Ada County’s staff has spent the past two weeks interviewing both applicants, reviewing the information contained within their respective proposals and researching the operations of both organizations. Ultimately, the Commissioners were left with several questions and concerns about the applicant’s qualifications and other issues associated with their past business dealings.

Commissioners found both proposals failed to adequately compensate Ada County for the use of its multimillion-dollar, 64-acre Les Bois Park facility. Spirit Valley Raceway (Spirit Valley) proposed an annual lease payment of $50,000 in exchange for use of the property. Alabama-Idaho, Inc./The Greene Group, Inc. (whose non-profit corporation—the Greene Idaho Foundation—is known in Idaho as "the Greene Group") proposed paying the county an annual lease rate of $12,000. Under the previous lease agreement with Capitol Racing the lease payment to Ada County was $300,000 a year.

Throughout the course of the due diligence process, Ada County staff identified several issues that raised concerns about both applicant’s current and past business operations.

Spirit Valley's owner and financial backer have no experience in horse racing. Not only that, but the owner has admitted to a violation of the Alcohol Beverage Control laws for his operation of another establishment. The owner also has a criminal background.

The Greene Group has been the subject of an enforcement action taken by the Idaho State Lottery Commission and admitted to a violation of state law regarding its bingo operation in Post Falls, Idaho. Also, the Greene Group informed Ada County Commissioners that it has undergone another audit by the Idaho State Lottery Commission. The Board has requested results from the Lottery Commission once the audit is complete.

The Ada County Board of Commissioners today said these issues all need to be resolved prior to continuing any lease negotiation for Les Bois Park. “We appreciate the time and effort that both applicants put into their proposals, but unfortunately we still have concerns about the issues and questions raised during our due diligence process,” said Ada County Commission Chairman Fred Tilman. “While our preference would have been to continue horse racing at Les Bois Park, the reality is we can not afford to lock the county into a lease agreement with either company at this point in time.”

The Board of Commissioners has agreed to continue to accept and review proposals from other qualified individuals and businesses interested in leasing Les Bois Park. Commissioners said they would be willing to review any supplemental proposals Spirit Valley or the Greene Group may provide that sufficiently remediate the issues and concerns uncovered by the county’s investigation.